Every morning author Roland Merullo passes the spot where Mussolini and his mistress were executed. He reflects on civic culture in an Op Ed column in today’s Boston Globe (“A grave lesson from Mussolini”). The pith:
We are so confident in the architecture of our American democracy, and in the abundance created by our labor, sacrifice, and ingenuity. But the balance we have been able to strike and maintain is a work in progress, our reward for a continual resistance to the natural human tendency toward divisiveness, corruption, and viciousness.
Division is inevitable. But corruption and the viciousness that becomes tyranny is why our government was formed with the built-in “inefficiency” of multiple branches operating in a balance of powers.
Our Founder's view of human nature was much like that of their contemporary Adam Smith. Today we don’t much discuss our view of human nature in political discourse. It is viewed as appropriate subject matter only for religion. That’s too bad. It is fundamental to thinking about government and economics as well.